The Great Roster Shuffle of 2013 - 08/23/2013
Changes are afoot in China as teams chomp down on chumps. This was, perhaps, to be expected, as China as a country severely underperformed expectations in Seattle, with the highest placing Chinese team finishing fourth, and only three Chinese teams finishing in the top eight as opposed to five last year. Shakeups are likely to be made to the traditionally stable scene; doomsayers foretell of a calamity to rival the Great Chinese Shuffle of 2011. Actually, the Post-TI3 changeups in China started on a good note: the one player who had long ago announced that he expected to retire after the tournament and would be sorely be missed by the scene, Burning, announced that he would not be retiring after all. This good start may have filled people with optimism, but what has followed since from our Chinese counterparts seems to have been one long stretch of drama.
Behold, gentlemen, we stand on the cusp of history.
Rumours and speculation are rife in the scene. “Chuan is leaving iG!” some claim, citing the fact that he is no longer in the in-game roster as evidence. “Indeed, he is leaving China!” others embellish, perhaps to join his Malaysian brethren in Orange, or even settling in Zenith, whilst still others insist that his in-game name being changed to "BurningYourSoul" suggests that he is moving to DK instead. Whilst nothing official has come of these rumours yet, it seems likely that some changes will happen to the team that dominated so much in the tail end of last year. Lacking the spark that propelled them to greatness a year ago, they looked like a relatively lack-lustre team in TI3.
Here, have a picture of a cute panda
The rumours don’t stop there, either. A mistranslation resulted in the English-speaking netizens believing – if only for a short while – that xiao8, captain of LGD.cn would be retiring from professional Dota. There may, however, be some truth to that claim as reports claim that xiao8 no longer feels motivated enough to play professional Dota. Perhaps it is just post-TI3 disappointment, burnout, or temporary fatigue that is speaking, or perhaps this belies a far more saddening truth. Perhaps, in fact, it is time for the older contributors to the professional scene to bow out gracefully and allow the younger, potentially stronger hopefuls the opportunity to perform. The older, wiser members of the scene could then fall back to a "coach" position, similar to the position EG.Maelk fills for EG. LightofHeaven went into detail in his TI3 interview.
He sets a standard that is difficult to equal.
The rumours don’t affect just us spectators watching from the side-lines, either. Apparently, rumours reached LGD.cn’s Carry player, Sylar, that he would be booted from the team. Acting proactively, he announced his resignation from the team. The veracity of this rumour was called into question by the team itself, but Sylar seems adamant that the team does not trust him. It seems, at the very least, that the relationship between team and player is irrevocably impaired. Furthermore, after a few months of training in China, LGD.cn’s “Western” counterpart, LGD.int, seems to be disillusioned with the current state of affairs. Whilst nothing is certain as of yet, changes seem almost assured, and only the extent of these changes are questioned. Currently, the individual members of the team are taking time off in their respective home countries before making further announcements.
A failed experiment?
These changes are not exclusive to LGD, either. DK, too, has been the source of many rumours in the last few days, with some players rumoured to be joining, others rumoured to be leaving. Talks of a “dream team” are shushed, whereas players take it upon themselves to make announcements to the public, often making statements charged with emotion. Known for his emotional temperament, DK.rotk made a passionate post online announcing that he was being booted from the team. This resulted in a back-and-forth between player and team, with other players pitching in to add their own two cents, or announcing that they, too, were leaving, retiring, or being kicked. ACE practises were quoted, called into question, and clarified; emotional outbursts retracted and replaced...and the pot of stew was left to simmer in a delicious pile of speculation and rumour, tantalisingly spiced by the vehement denial by DK.farseer that they were looking to build a dream team… leaving one to wonder who is?
Even the best performing Chinese team of TI3, Tongfu, wasn’t immune to such rumours, with claims (since debunked) that an anonymous investor had offered $130,000 (that’s right - dollars) for the services of Hao and Mu. The fact that a rumour of such magnitude is making the rounds just goes to show the level of uncertainty that surrounds the Chinese – and, indeed, the global – scene right now. Post-International shakeups are almost normality now, but the extent to which this one could impact the scene could be unparalleled in magnitude.
That's a huge wad of cash
Non-TI3 Chinese teams have not been connected with any rumours as of yet. However, big up-and-coming teams such as Vici Gaming seem poised to make the best of this situation, and a huge shuffle resulting in more than one Chinese Dream-Team is very possible.
It is not only Chinese teams that are troubled by turmoil. Further to the west, Singapore’s all-star team, Zenith, has been leaking members like a sieve drops water. The last remaining member, iceiceice, has been streaming the past few days and has decried the lack of opportunities in Singapore, slating the fact that Singapore’s lack of recognition of professional gaming is making being a full time gamer impossible, and declaring his intention to move to China. This is in stark contrast with Malaysia, home of the other big SEA team – Orange. Over the past week, many examples of the youth minister showing a strong regard and a not insignificant level of pride for the International 3rd place finishers have been publicized, providing a fantastic example for governments all around the world to follow and look up to.
Team Orange Representing eSports Like A Boss
On the other side of the world, the North American scene appears to be having a major shuffle of their own. Evil Geniuses (perhaps the most famous team not present in TI3 – although the brand was represented by Alliance) is rumoured to be leaking members almost as fast as Zenith, with Demon announcing that he was no longer in the roster (albeit, unofficially and on stream, by removing himself from the in-game roster - so take it with a pinch of salt), and an announcement being made on EG.Fear’s stream that EG would become an all-American team, suggesting that Bamboe would no longer be a part of the roster. Indeed, with the potential return to NA of some of LGD.int’s players, and the shuffling of other rosters, an almost complete reshuffle resulting in Fear being the only surviving member of today’s EG looks entirely plausible.
I demand excellence!
EG is not the only team that looks to be making changes. Team Dignitas, too, has announced – officially, this time, via the website – the departure of Sneyking, who is now a free agent. Team Liquid, too, has had its members (and even Liquid’Nazgul) confirm that changes are going to be made to the roster (complete with an incomplete in-game roster), although the particulars and extent of these changes have not yet been made clear. Rumours of friction between Korok and the other members of Liquid don’t seem to have an official source, yet seems to be common knowledge amongst western netizens. In a very recent interview, pieliedie, member of Kaipi, suggested that Korok was gone and Mike was soon to follow. These rumours are strengthened by a conversation between h4nn1 and qojqva on h4nn1’s stream, in which qojqva told him that he was currently playing as a stand-in for Kaipi, but if “that Liquid thing” didn’t work out, he might join their roster. This suggests that Liquid is on the hunt for talented young players to shore up the gaps in their roster.
That Liquid Thing
Compared to the rest of the world, Europe has been surprisingly quiet on the roster shuffling as of yet – ironic, considering how volatile the European scene has been in the past. Despite an initial outburst from Xboct virtually the day after TI3 ended slamming his teammates and setting the ground for a roster change, the European scene has remained remarkably devoid of drama. That isn’t to say there have been no changes at all, however, as iCCup announced that they were dropping their roster – a move that comes as a surprise, as iCCup seemed to be a young, talented team on the rise. As well as this, Virtus.Pro announced that they were drastically cutting down their roster, dropping three members leaving only long-time legends NS and Ars-Art. Furthermore, fan-favourite singsing has finally left QPAD for Kaipi, just as Arteezy leaves, ostensibly to go to school (it should, perhaps, be noted that Kaipi practises for an EU timezone, whereas NA teams tend to practise on NA timezeones which may be more helpful for a school-going Arteezy. Arteezy to Liquid, anyone?).
Google "Liquid Horse". This is but one of the fantastic images that show up.
One of the few solid rumours currently making the rounds is of the eventual departure of qojqva from mousesports, him having been seen on stream as announcing that he was joining KP if the “Liquid thing” didn’t work out, suggesting that he has no desire to stick around. A few, wilder rumours have made the rounds however – Pajkatt to join Kaipi (followed by booting EternalEnvy and winning TI4). The reformation of TI2’s mousesports. Chuan to found a European team with Dendi. Various broken-English tweets from CIS players, all to be taken with a grain of salt.
So, where are they all going to go?
It seems as though the teams will, for a time, merely swap players. Some teams might, perhaps, go the way of EHOME from last year; and old name filled with tradition leaving the Dota scene. Dream Teams might form that threaten dominate the scene alá 2011 China. We might end up with that one sleeper team that no one suspects winning the Grand Prize next year, following in Alliance’s footsteps. Some players might retire from the scene, leaving professional Dota, but forever having a place in our hearts and history books.
One of the most intriguing things about this troubled time is the suggestion that new rosters will be formed. Misery and Ducky suggested that they would be forming a Dream Team after the disbandment of LGD.int. In Europe, one of the most persistent – and biggest – rumours is that Artstyle, the captain that ostensibly led Na’Vi to their victory in the first International, and long-time veteran of the Dota scene,is returning from retirement to form a new Dota2 team under the label of Astana Dragons: a name that already exists in the eSports scene, having just created what is essentially a dream-team for CIS Counterstrike, taking players from both Na’Vi and Virtus Pro. To repeat a feat in the Dota scene would truly shake the foundations of CIS Dota, and allows for a mouth-watering feast of speculation. Xboct to rejoin his old captain? Dendi leaving Na’Vi in favour of greener pastures elsewhere? The splintered forces of Russia uniting into a Dream Team? The potential-filled players from iCCup being recruited? What about the players who left VP? Dota 2 Astana Dragons is currently shrouded in delightful mystery that spreads to the entire CIS scene – the global scene even – and the upcoming roster changes are sure to shake up the scene for a year of Dota. The stage is set for the best year of Dota we have ever seen, with every team all over the world seeking to create a supreme synergy of the perfect players to challenge the very top of the scene.
The very top of the scene, at this very moment in time, is Alliance – living the life after a dominating victory at TI3 (what a final series…). However, their perch is precarious as all eyes are on them and every team strives to knock them off their very narrow pedestal. In the end, professional Dota is a shallow lake infested with fish, each vying for superiority over their foes – and one more has entered the waters. The Koreans are coming, and with a year to prepare, there’s no telling what these sharks could grow into. The Shark is in the Water, and Korea comes to challenge for the Dota throne.
The Koreans Are Coming!
Author’s Note: The speculation contained within this post is solely the thoughts and interpretations of me writing it, and is not to be taken as gospel truth, or representing anyone else’s opinions.
So... What do you think? Anything to add? Any observations to make? Any rumours to share? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below!
Be sure to follow us on various social media sites!